Saturday, December 11, 2010

Feeling Hopeful

Though I used to often wonder as a kid what it'd be like to have parents whose marriage wasn't destroyed by alcoholism and mental illness (things my dad struggled with when I was younger), the holidays were the one time I was usually pretty content with what I had, as far as family was concerned. I spent the early part of my life surrounded by extended family, so I wasn't unhappy.

What's odd is, now that I have a family of my own, sometimes I go back to wondering what it'd be like to go home to that kind of ideal place: where my mom and dad would be there together to welcome all of us , including their new grandchild. But we live in a broken world, so when I'm ungrateful and have unrealistic hopes, I try to change the way I think and hope for less selfish things that are more important. Thankfully, those hopes aren't impossible ones.

My dad has been sober for quite a few years now. It hasn't been easy for him, though, which is why I now respect him for staying away from alcohol and drugs. It wasn't always this way, hence my use of the word now. When I was younger, I didn't realize how much my dad struggled. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia aren't terms that most 7 year olds are familiar with (at least I wasn't). So I just chalked it all up to him not loving my mom or me enough, but at 26, I realize that's far from the truth.

I just got off the phone with my dad, and though he didn't outright say it, I know he is better.
His tone of voice gives it away. When he was struggling earlier, refusing any medical or emotional help, he sounded broken. I admit, it was tough to talk to him because I wanted him to be happy. I'm not the type of person who can easily cut themselves off emotionally--so I felt what he felt, just not to the extent that he felt it. To me, being happy seemed so simple, but I don't have what he has. I also haven't lost what he did, a wife and child.

My father has come a long way. He hit rock bottom when my parents divorced, and I didn't know that until my aunt explained the situation a few years ago. Though he is still healing and can't work because of his mental state, I've been able to witness his progress from across the miles. Becoming a grandpa brought happiness back into his life, too.

It may sound silly to the average person, but just hearing my dad talk about putting up Christmas lights at my grandparent's house, or decorating his Christmas tree, really brightened my spirits this morning and did for me what going "home" does for a person who comes from a non-broken family. My heart is warmed when I hear joy and hope in his voice because I know that he is very familiar with sadness. This is one of the things that makes me feel hopeful and content this Christmas season.


Anonymous said...

I am so glad that the Lord is starting to redeem the years that were stolen.
Thanks for sharing this Sophie.

Amanda said...

I'm glad that you are having this hope for your father. I imagine dealing with all that would be very hard.

The Librarian said...

That is so great, Sophie. I know it has been a hard road to finally come to terms with your father, so it is great to see that you and him are both on good terms. Or at least getting there.

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